Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fast and Furious: "Scathing Report" Released by Inspector General

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 1:30 PM

The Inspector General's long-awaited report on the ATF's Fast and Furious operation is out.

The New York Times reports:


In a scathing report, the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, laid primary blame on what he portrayed as a dysfunctional and poorly supervised group of Arizona-based federal prosecutors and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. As part of the operation, those officials did not act to seize illegal weapons in hopes of bringing a bigger case against a gun-smuggling network linked to a Mexican drug gang.

While it found no evidence that officials at the Justice Department in Washington had authorized or approved the tactics, it faulted several officials for related failures, including not recognizing red flags and failing to follow up on information about both Operation Fast and Furious and a similar, earlier investigation called Operation Wide Receiver, in which guns also reached drug gangs.

“In the course of our review, we identified individuals ranging from line agents and prosecutors in Phoenix and Tucson to senior A.T.F. officials in Washington, D.C., who bore a share of responsibility for A.T.F.'s knowing failure in both these operations to interdict firearms illegally destined for Mexico, and for doing so without adequately taking into account the danger to public safety that flowed from this risky strategy,” the report said.

Talking Points Memo summarizes:

There is no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder and high-ranking officials at the Justice Department knew that guns were allowed to “walk” during an ATF operation known as Fast and Furious, according to a report released on Wednesday afternoon by the department’s internal watchdog.

Following a 19-month investigation, the Inspector General found that the decision not to take action against low-level “straw purchasers” was made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office. Their decision, according to the report, “was primarily the result of tactical and strategic decisions by the agents and prosecutors, rather than because of any legal limitation on their ability to do so.” Dennis Burke, the head of the U.S. Attorney’s office at the time, resigned from his position in August 2011.

The IG report is considered to be the most comprehensive and least partisan account of the scandal available to date. Unlike investigators with Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee, DOJ investigators had access to criminal investigation files.

The Washington Post reports:

Federal agents and prosecutors in Phoenix ignored public safety concerns and were primarily responsible for the botched effort to infiltrate weapons-smuggling rings in the operation dubbed “Fast and Furious,” according to a report released Wednesday by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The long-awaited report also directed sharp criticism at senior officials from the Justice Department and its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington for lax oversight of the attempt to block the flow of weapons to Mexico’s violent drug cartels. Many of the weapons later turned up at crime scenes in Mexico and the United States, including one in which a Border Patrol agent was killed.

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